Easier said than done – thinking without words. Except you can’t say it, because you are thinking without words.

So take a breath, hold it in for a moment, and then breathe out. If you are listening, close your eyes, breathe in… breathe out. Through your nose, a drag in, and a push out.

I hope you are sitting comfortably? Just nod or shake your head, don’t reply, not in voice, not in mind.

You know how it’s easier to remember your phone number, if you say it out loud? Just like a good Shakespearean actor, I myself need the to-be-or-not-to-be – I need the opening line – the oh-seven-eight, to deliver the rest of my number. And when it’s not your phone number but rather your pin code you are typing in, while around people. What do you do? Lips pursed I mumble. Mmhm-mm-mhm-hmm – eight three seven five.

We’ll try to do the same about thinking.

I’ll name some animals, and let’s see if you can imagine them.

A dolphin. A sheep. A dog. A cat. Your neighbour.

We will start again. And when I call out the animal, try imagining it, but do not to think it’s name, do not to put a label under it. Just look at it.


Don’t try to describe it to yourself. You see its fins and its head and the long nose, its toothy smile and mischievous smirk, and its slick blue-gray dolphin body. Dolphin.

Now think about how you feel. And remember to not use words.

Is it just blankness? Or your shape, how it feels from inside, if your eyelids are closed. And, like your hands bound behind your back, the absence of words – unthinkable? But try sticking with it for another second.

I’ll give you some more words, so they will be mine not yours. Try to imagine yourself feeling them. Try to imagine it and then try to remember the feeling for a short while. Safe. Tired. Happy. Sad. Blissful. Angry. Relaxed. Now breathe. And notice how it’s easier to go without breath than with it.

Words let us connect. They let us frame visions and project ideas. And they allow us to build sophisticated worlds within sophisticated worlds. They are the ultimate layer of culture, but not the only one. Under the paint there is another painting.

Thinking without words, the more you think about it—without words—is just one, very simple, thing.

It’s feeling.